The Douglas company began delivering the production model A-26B in August 1943 with the new bomber first seeing action with the Fifth Air Force in the Southwest Pacific theater on 23 June 1944, when they bombed Japanese-held islands near Manokwari. The pilots in the 3rd Bomb Group's 13th Squadron, "The Grim Reapers", who received the first four A-26s for evaluation, found the view from the cockpit to be poor for low level attack. General George Kenney, commander of the Far East Air Forces stated that, "We do not want the A-26 under any circumstances as a replacement for anything." Until changes could be made, the 3rd Bomb Group requested additional Douglas A-20 Havocs, although both types were used in composite flights. The 319th Bomb Group worked up on the A-26 in March 1945, joining the initial 3rd BG, with the 319th flying until 12 August 1945. The A-26 operations wound down in mid-August 1945 with only a few dozen missions flown.
A-26s began arriving in Europe in late September 1944 for assignment to the Ninth Air Force. The initial deployment involved 18 aircraft and crews assigned to the 553d Squadron of the 386th Bomb Group. This unit flew its first mission on 6 September 1944. The first group to fully convert to the A-26B was 416th Bombardment Group with which it entered combat on 17 November, and the 409th Bombardment Group, whose A-26s became operational in late November. Due to a shortage of A-26C variants, the groups flew a combined A-20/A-26 unit until deliveries of the glass-nose version caught up. Besides bombing and strafing, tactical reconnaissance and night interdiction missions were undertaken successfully. In contrast to the Pacific-based units, the A-26 was well received by pilots and crew alike, and by 1945, the 9th AF had flown 11,567 missions, dropping 18,054 tons of bombs, recording seven confirmed kills while losing 67 aircraft